Options discussed for nuisance projects

Oak Bay council hears solutions for dealing with future construction work

Oak Bay council is a step closer to solving the problem of construction projects dragging on in the municipality.

The issue has been in council’s sights for more than a year, largely due to a pair of properties that have drawn complaints from neighbours regarding unsightliness and after-hours noise.

Four options for dealing with unintentional long-term projects in the future were outlined in a staff report presented to councillors last week.

While they sounded happy with the progress being made – a previous report on the same subject was rejected as being not detailed enough – some were concerned the alternatives weren’t sufficient to solve the problem.

“I still don’t know if we’re pushing this hard enough,” said Coun. John Herbert.

“None of (the recommendations) say, ‘These guys are really serious and they’re going to do something.’”

Of the four options detailed in the report, two were recommended by staff.

The first involves amending Oak Bay’s noise bylaw. Once unfinished projects reach the two-year mark, construction noise would only be allowed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., instead of the typical hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Though the amendment wouldn’t necessarily have a direct impact on the project’s completion, the disruption to neighbours would be reduced.

A second solution would give the municipality ability to file a notice against the title on the land where the owner has not met the deadline – after two years, for example – for having a final inspection passed on the work. The ‘section 57’ notice, as it is known, would essentially serve as a warning flag to lending institutions and potential buyers that there is unfinished work on the property.

Herbert suggested attaching a project-specific set of conditions to new building permits issued after two years, attaching hard targets and deadlines that could be evaluated by municipal staff.

Both Herbert and Coun. Tara Ney asked to see more information before council votes on whether to accept the recommendations.

“We don’t want a heavy-handed bylaw to deal with a couple of projects,” Ney said.

Municipal staff will prepare an expanded report detailing the criteria that would determine to which projects the recommendations would apply. That report is expected in September.